Tag Archives: WWII

Little Joe, Book One of Round Rock Series by Michael E. Glasscock III

Little Joe Cover, book written by Michael Glasscock IIISynopsis: 

When Little Joe Stout survives the car accident that took his parents’ lives, he is sent to live with his maternal grandparents in the small town of Round Rock, Tennessee. Orphaned and missing his Texas home, Little Joe is reluctant to adapt. But his grandparents, especially his grandmother, are up to the challenge of raising him despite their own struggles. Soon, childhood friendships are forged in the oddball duo of Sugar and Bobby, and—with the help of a new canine companion—Little Joe begins to see that his new home offers the comfort and love he thought was lost forever.

Set against the drama of World War II and the first sparks of the civil rights movement, Little Joe’s new home is a microcosm of America in the 1940s. A frightening incident with a Chinese motorist traveling on the wrong side of town, the migration of troops across the countryside, and a frank discussion of Jim Crow laws are just a few of the local events mirroring the radio broadcasts that bring the news of the day into his grandmother’s kitchen.

Little Joe begins a four-part series from Michael E. Glasscock III that explores the intricate social cloth of Round Rock, Tennessee.

(Cover image and synopsis via Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Recently I selected Little Joe by Michael E. Glasscock III from my To Be Read pile looking for a charming story, hopefully intriguing characters, and a lighter tale than I have read lately. When I selected Little Joe, I realized it was Book One of a Four-Part Series. Reading Little Joe hasn’t charged me with the will to read Book Two.

Growing up in Nashville, TN, which is near the region Glasscock uses as his central geographic point, I was impressed with the accuracy of his descriptions of Hwy. 70, the impact of fog along its narrow lanes and shoulders, and the intensity of rain storms and the amount of water drenching highways.

The depicted region is captured well so I anticipated good character development and an emotional read based on this nine-year old boy’s sudden transition from his parents to his grandparents. Not having had grandparents who were still alive when I was born, I always enjoy a book with beautiful grandchildren/grandparent relationships.

Nothing could be farther from the situation in Little Joe. Although his grandmother is a strong Christian woman and is quite pleasant to those among her community who are African-American, she is quite bigoted when it comes to Catholics. I waited for the author to tell me why, but he never expanded on this. Perhaps it will come in Book Two.

Under the circumstances of his parents’ sudden death, I expected a softer heart from the grandmother and not such harsh judgments and punishments. I did not like her character at all.

During a time when emotion could have filled paragraphs and perhaps pages, it was sadly lacking. I did not feel that Little Joe was given an opportunity to grieve for his parents as a child should and likely would have, nor did I get the sense that, other than with his two young friends, was he allowed to be a boy child.

All in all, I was sorely disappointed with this book and have a difficult time recommending it to anyone else to read. If I were in the habit of assigning ratings to book in my reviews, Little Joe receives 2 stars.

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Meet the Author:

Glasscock, Michael E III, AuthorFor the first eight years of his life Michael E. Glasscock III lived on his grandfather’s cattle ranch a few miles south of the small community of Utopia, Texas. At the beginning of World War II, he moved to a small town in Tennessee not unlike the mythical Round Rock portrayed in his fiction series. Michael decided to study medicine, and he graduated from the University of Tennessee Medical School at age twenty-four.

Nashville, Tennessee, was the site of his otology/neurotology practice, where he was associated with Vanderbilt University as a clinical professor, and where he continues to be part of the faculty as an adjunct professor. He retired from full-time clinical practice in 1997 and moved back to Texas where he continues to work as a consultant for three major medical device companies. He currently resides in Austin, Texas.

(Image and bio via Amazon)

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  • Series: Round Rock (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press (June 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608325660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608325665

I received a copy of Little Joe from Greenleaf Book Group Press via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

HFVT Blog Tour | Review and Giveaway — The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Cover image of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

“An epic novel ….[Epstein] thoughtfully describes the hellish realities of war: the lack of tolerance for, and unwillingness to understand, other cultures; the universal pain of loss and human suffering; the brutality of mankind as lives are torn asunder.”

~ Advance praise from Kirkus Reviews



One summer night in prewar Japan, eleven-year-old Billy Reynolds takes snapshots at his parent’s dinner party. That same evening his father Anton–a prominent American architect–begins a torrid affair with the wife of his master carpenter. A world away in New York, Cameron Richards rides a Ferris Wheel with his sweetheart and dreams about flying a plane. Though seemingly disparate moments, they will all draw together to shape the fate of a young girl caught in the midst of one of WWII’s most horrific events–the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo.

Exquisitely rendered, The Gods of Heavenly Punishment tells the stories of families on both sides of the Pacific: their loves and infidelities, their dreams and losses–and their shared connection to one of the most devastating acts of war in human history.

(Synopsis and book cover image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual  Book Tours)

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My Thoughts:

Initially I struggled to feel comfortable with the slow forward progress in this story. However, once the characters began to align, the plot unfolded a little more, and a variety of interactions between characters arose I was intrigued by developing story line and the author’s detailed research with respect to Tokyo during WWII and the aircraft used in its bombing.

Additionally, Epstein researches so well that the disturbing details of the aftermath of war and its egregious battles and treatments became mental images for me. Epstein is an exceptional crafter of scenes and images.

However, the layering of the impact this world, time and war would have on the girl, Yoshi’s, life becomes overshadowed by random scenes and dialogue and sex scenes that seemed unnecessary to the central theme of the book: the universal experience of loss in war not because we necessarily hate the people our country opposes but because we lack an understanding of who they are and what they stand for, their culture and traditions, and likewise they don’t understand us or our culture and traditions.

Finally, those who suffer the most in war are those who are left to pick up the pieces and carry on. This is where Yoshi is left.

My Recommendation: 

Lovers of historical fiction, especially centered around World War II and particularly Japan, will enjoy this book. If you like to read a story that spotlights a character who has the grit to rise above circumstances, you will enjoyThe Gods of Heavenly Punishment.

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Meet the Author:

Jennifer Cody Epstein, Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller, The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and an especially needy Springer Spaniel.


(Bio and image provided by Historical Fiction Virtual  Book Tours)

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Paperback Publication Date: January 13, 2014
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: 400 pp
ISBN-13: 9780393347883

I received a copy of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment from the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions and recommendations expressed are my own.

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To enter the giveaway, just follow the link below.
The contest ends at 12:00am on January 13th.

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Friday Favorites | From The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy


Image via Goodreads

Image via Goodreads

“I learned in that moment that there are different darknesses.
That there is ordinary darkness, like the night in the countryside, where, even
on a night with no moon, as you stare things loom, take form; and there is
another darkness, a darkness so profound you cannot begin to imagine it,
cannot conjure it up in your mind. A darkness that blots out all you remember
or hope for. A darkness that teaches that all that consoles you is false.” 

― Margaret LeroyThe Soldier’s Wife

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